The first teaser trailer for Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness debuted in theaters this past weekend as a post-credits addition to Spider-Man: Now Way Home. Marvel has just released it to the general public, and it looks like we’re in for another eye-popping, mind-bending ride.
(Spoilers for prior events in the MCEU below, particularly in Loki, What If? and No Way Home.)
The sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange has been in the works for years, with director Scott Derrickson initially signed on to make the film. Derrickson left the project in January 2020, citing creative differences, although it seems it was a mutually amiable parting. (Derrickson is still an executive producer.) Sam Raimi took over directing duties.
There have been been conflicting statements made to the press about whether or not Multiverse of Madness might quality as Marvel’s first horror film or whether it just has a few scary sequences. Certainly the choices of Derrickson and Raimi, respectively, to direct—both of whom are well versed in the tropes of good horror—indicate that the studio wanted to incorporate at least some of the Gothic horror elements of the comics. Comments from cast members seem to confirm this. However, the extensive additional photography and reshoots are rumored to include more humorous elements, plus a few key cameos (one of the most enjoyable aspects of Spider-Man: No Way Home).
Plot-wise, we know the film is set after the events of No Way Home, WandaVision, and the first season of Loki. The latter introduced us to the Time Variant Authority (TVA), with our mischievous protagonist encountering multiple versions of himself from various different timelines, including a female incarnation named Sylvie (Sophia di Martino). The finale featured a confrontation with a variant of Kang the Conqueror, who had been controlling the Sacred Timeline—until an impulsive act by Sylvie unleashed more timelines than the TVA could prune, destabilizing the multiverse.
What If? introduced us to Strange Supreme, an evil alternate version of Steven Strange who gained enormous power by absorbing other mystical beings, thereby tearing reality apart. The Watcher eventually recruits Strange Supreme to be one of the Guardians of the Multiverse who collectively defeat Ultron.
As for the events of No Way Home, we won’t spoil anything here, since the film just opened in theaters. Suffice to say that Strange’s multiverse meddling in that film (revealed in the trailers) is going to have unforeseen repercussions that will likely play out in Multiverse of Madness. (“Your desecration of reality will not go unpunished.”) Per the official synopsis: “After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Dr. Stephen Strange continues his research on the Time Stone. But an old friend-turned-enemy puts an end to his plans and causes Strange to unleash unspeakable evil.”
That old friend is Karl Mondo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Strange’s fellow Master of the Mystic Arts, who grew disillusioned with the order and now hunts down other mages to take away their power. Benedict Wong reprises his role as Wong, now the Sorcerer Supreme (because Strange disappeared for five years in the wake of the Snappening). The film will also introduce Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez/Miss America, and it looks like Rachel McAdams will return as Dr. Christine Palmer, perhaps as Christine from another timeline, since we see her in a wedding dress in the teaser.
Elizabeth Olsen returns as Wanda Maximoff/The Scarlet Witch, chastened after the events of WandaVision, whom Strange seeks out as an ally as the teaser opens. “The greatest threat to our universe is you,” Mondo tells Strange during one of their confrontations. (Two thumbs up for Mondo’s new hairdo.) And then we see what looks like a live-action Strange Supreme, clad all in black, insisting that “things just got out of hand.” Color us intrigued.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6, 2022.
Listing image by Marvel Studios